Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

A hearty adzuki and butternut squash soup recipe adapted from Jae Steele's Get It Ripe cookbook. The soup has a bit of chipotle flavor and is made even better with a drizzle of cilantro olive oil prior to serving.

Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup

You've likely walked past the diminutive adzuki a hundred times in the bin section of your local market. Next time stop, fill a bag, and take a few hundred tiny red pebbles home with you. They're great, nutritional powerhouses, and the stars of a hearty stew-like soup I'm highlighting today. If you've never had them before, they have a sweet, subtly grassy flavor, tender skins, and hold their petite shape beautifully. You cook them just as you would any other dried beans. Paired with butternut squash here you've got sweet on sweet, which is then offset by a good dose of chipotle pepper, cilantro, and proper seasoning.

Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup

The recipe is adapted from a soup I discovered in Jae Steele's Get It Ripe cookbook - an inspiring volume I picked up last year in a book store up the street from my house. Jae is a Canadian-based holistic nutritionist, and her cookbook is filled with recipes emphasizing whole, unprocessed ingredients. All 150 recipes are vegan, and she notes special dietary considerations as well - gluten-free, soy-free, etc. It has become harder and harder for me to find cookbooks that highlight the palette of ingredients I'm most interested in exploring, so I was particularly excited when I saw this one. Her cookies, cakes, and brownies often feature spelt or other whole grain flours, and are more often sweetened with maple syrup than granulated sugar. She also includes a few primer sections in the front of the book covering topics ranging from eating local and stocking your whole foods pantry, to digestion basics and micro-nutrient content of certain whole foods. For those of you looking to incorporate more veg-friendly, whole foods into your meals (and baking!) - there are lots of great ideas here.

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Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

if you like a bit more smoky heat, add more chipotle pepper to taste toward the end. Jae uses 1-2 chopped red bell peppers in place of the tomatoes here. You could certainly use a vegetable stock here in place of the water, but be sure to scale back on the added salt if you go this route - stock can be on the salty side. As with many stews, it's even better the day after, and I've been enjoying it over brown rice as well.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon (dried) coriander
2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper (from can, or rehydrated from dried chile)
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 medium-large onions
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 - 6 cups water
5 whole canned tomatoes, chopped
4 cups cooked or canned adzuki beans

cilantro drizzle (optional)*

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cinnamon, coriander, chipotle and salt and saute for a minute or two - until aromatic. Add the onions and saute another 5 minutes or so, until they start to go translucent. Add the garlic and butternut squash, stir well, and then add 5 cups of water. Increase the heat to bring to a boil, and once boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for afew minutes, until the squash begins to soften - 5 - 10 minutes.

Once the squash has softened, use a potato masher and break up the squash pieces a bit. Add the tomatoes, and cook a couple more minutes before adding the beans. Serve drizzled with the cilantro.

Serves about 8.

* I made a quick cilantro drizzle by finely mincing a handful of cilantro. I put it in a jar, and poured just enough olive oil over to cover - plus a couple pinches of salt.

Adapted from Jae Steele's Get It Ripe: A Fresh Take on Vegan Cooking and Living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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I did not have adzuki beans and substituted black beans which made for beautiful visual contrast with the butternut squash and also added some chopped cilantro before serving. It was a very flavorful soup with just the right amount of kick. I served it with toasted whole grain bread.
I have included a photo on my Pbase photo site in the PAD (photo-a-day) gallery


I just made this tonight and it is very good. Just the right amount of spice. Next time I’ll add some brown or even wild rice to make it chewier.


This is my first response even though I have used this site and many recipes for at least a year now. I made this soup last night with a couple of substitutions and it was great. I didn’t have adzuki beans, but did have another small bean that I picked up at our farmer’s market. Not as sweet probably, but still yummy. Also used fire roasted tomatoes- fantastic with the chipotle. The cilantro drizzle was the crowning glory. Thanks for the inspiration!


I just made this, and it is so delicious! Plus, it was really easy, and I was able to get a lot of work done for my job in between recipe steps. I love aduki beans, and this recipe is a good break for me from eating too many grains lately.


I may be the only person on the planet that sautees adzuki beans before adding them to my egg white omelete every morning. Some chopped onions, mushrooms and herbs and I’m good to go.
Who knew these beautiful beans would be good in a soup? 🙂


I’d also love some tips on peeling and dicing butternut squash. Even when baked, I find it frustrating and can never do a thorough job.
This is my favorite food site in the world! We make the maple syrup-brussels sprouts–apples dish all the time, it’s revolutionized the way we cook. Thank you!


This looks great! I recently made the acorn squash and adzuki soup from the Veganomicon and it was amazing. I love the idea of the chipotle-tomato version. I will try it soon.


How timely. Just YESTERDAY I was eyeing all the bins at Whole Foods, upset because they haven’t had cannellini beans for a month and there I spotted adzuki beans and my first thought, “Heidi probably makes these.” And, then you post this.

Angela@Spinach Tiger

Hi Heidi,
I make lots of your recipes and love them all!
One question though: your recipes often instruct us to peel and dice raw squash. I find this SUCH a time-consuming and frustrating process, even with a sharp knife! It’s so much easier to deal with squash once it’s baked, so you don’t really have to peel the hard skin.
Any tips for how to make the peel and dice easier? Or a different way to deal with the squash?

Mary Anne

I am eating this right now – so good! Perfect, spice, perfect heat, perfect sweetness. Love it! Thanks for a gorgeous website and delightful recipes!


Beautiful! I have some Adzuki I bought from our local wholefoods market a few weeks ago. And I have an oversupply of flaming orange sweet potatoes … I wonder if they’ll come together as nicely as butternut squash?


Looks lovely- would be nice with Japanese kabocha squash too, I think…the combination of herbs and the chiles sounds intriguing- thanks as always for the post!


I love the idea of combining squash and legumes. I have never done so before, but now that you mention it I am wondering why I never thought if it before, because it seems like such a natural pairing both for texture and flavor. I don’t have any butternut or adzuki on hand, but I have some acorn squash and lima beans; perhaps I will experiment with those two tonight and graduate to this recipe later on 🙂


Oh, by the way this soup sounds very interesting! For those of you who have trouble with the bean after-math, try adding a few Epazote leaves to the beans when you cook them up. Its a mexican herb. Some health foods stores sell it dried too.


Hello Heidi, Just wanted to say how much I love your recipes. My birthday is coming up and my wife keeps asking me what I want… this morning I finally thought of something I really want! Super Natural Cooking! I visit your site every single day and every single day I find myself saying “WOW, that looks awesome” or something to that effect. So, thank you for your wonderful site, and I hope to use your book as much as possible. I’m not a vegetarian at all, but I love to discover new and healthy recipes for my family. Your site has introduced me to many things I’ve never even heard of.
Keep up the awesome work Heidi! You deserve all the awards and more!


Great ! Now in my rss reader.


Looks delish! I’ve discovered your blog in December and have been cooking at least 2 or more of your recipes each week with great success and resounding ‘yummy’ from the whole family. Because of the kids, I usually leave out the chipotles (or red pepper flakes) that a number of the recipes call for – however, my husband and I like the spiciness. Is it possible to add at the end or drizzle over in our bowls or does it need to be cooked earlier on to get the flavor best?


Thank you so much for this recipe, I will definitely have to try it! And thank you Glenda for the hint on the baking soda…have to try that too! I love beans, but it seems that even when I soak them, discard soaking water and rinse, and cook in new water, they still don’t love me. Adzuki beans are supposed to be easier on the digestive system, so this recipe and this hint are music to my ears! Will have to make this weekend.


The soup sounds goegeous! I’ve never had savoury aduki bean soup before actually. I’ve always had it sweet as a dessert.


I made this last night, but with leeks instead of onions, because we had lots in our veggie box. It tasted fab!
Thanks for the review of the receipe.


Hi Heidi,
The recipe is great. I love this Adzuki Butternut Squash Soup.


I will definitely try this – my only previous experience with adzuki beans was not a happy one because the beans never did get soft, and there was an off taste, but I think they were old when I got them.


does everyone know that if you soak dried beans for 24 hours in a bowl of water with 1 tablespoon of baking soda, then rinse thoroughly before cooking it removes at least 90% of the gas factor? so easy and it works.
i want to spread the news because i have now lost my fear of beans (though i always loved the taste). i’m sure if more meat eaters knew this, they would convert.

glenda Mathew

I have 2 cans of these beans and now i know what to do with them. Sounds like a crock pot fancy.


I have to say that any dish that features bean, chipotles and cilantro does not just sound fantastic to me, butis nourishing and comforting as well. I think that we should let the so-called Third World teach us about what is good food and in so many things as well.

La Traductora

I’ve never commented before–but gosh, all of the recipes you post look beautiful and are fantastic. I’m totally going to try this one. I love squash, and beans, (I’ve actually had this bean in a sweet form–in a bar of sorts, if I remember), and I think it looks just wonderful. Thank you for your blog, your photos and your recipes–especially for those of us who are wheat-free!


Sounds wonderful, and I’ll definately be checking out that book. Thanks for the recommendation!


This looks delicious. I had adzuki beans growing up quite a bit but always as a dessert ingredient.
This would definitely be great with brown rice or quinoa.

lisa (dandysugar)

I’ve had adzuki bean soup as a dessert, but not like this! Thanks for the yummy-sounding recipe.


Yum – this sounds like a great recipe! I love the texture of adzuki beans.


Hi Heidi,
Thanks for the tips. This recipe shows another tasty approach to adzuki.
Just want to bring to your attention the search box on the top of the page.


Yes, I love beans! And with the sad state of the economy, there’s nothing better than bean, peas, lentils — to make inexpensive and healthy meals. You can buy a big bag of organic beans (my current favorite is Anasazi beans) and make them into several different meals. Add some corn bread or something and you have a delightful, cheap, and healthy meal. I love the idea of squash in the beans.


My husband dislikes winter squash — but he LOVED your Thai-spiced pumpkin soup, so maybe he’ll like this one as well! The chipotles and cilantro will complement the sweetness of the squash.


I have never heard of those kinds of beans, I can’t wait to see if I can find them at the store. It seems you can do a lot with them!


I have been wondering what to do for some adzuki beans in my pantry and this looks delicious – I will definitely give it a try, sounds like great flavors, thanks!


Like m above, I’m more familiar with adzuki in its sweet manifestations from my time in Japan: a gooey, tasty mochi. It is, without question, one of the sweetest confections ever to cross my lips. You’ll likely encounter it on your trip to Japan! But I can’t wait to try adzukis in a more firey/earthy palette like this one

Jess @ lavidaveggie

In Japan, azuki is cooked with mochi [glutinous] rice, then sprinkled with a bit of salt as a celebratory food.
Also, I love sweetened azuki paste [anko] with mochi. Deeelicious. Since the azuki is so earthy, I think you can replace the granulated sugar with natural sweeteners.
Heidi, thanks for reminding me to get back to my roots — and explore past them!


Heidi, I made a stew-soup like this in the fall–I used cranberry beans, butternut squash, a tomato-y base, and the same sweet-spicy notes of cinnamon and pepper (I used a chili powder). I also added brown sugar, which was exactly what it needed, and with a grainy bread on the side, it was *perfect* for fall. I found the inspiration in the foods themselves, and thought I’d made something very unfamiliar and unusual…until now! Great minds think alike, eh.

Erin @ Sprouted In the Kitchen

I LOVE butternut squash – it’s so hearty and delicious, especially when it’s cold outside. Back when the weather first started to turn chilly, my knee-jerk reaction was to go home and make up a batch of butternut squash soup. I’ve never tried Adzuki beans, but I definitely look forward to doing so. For another similar butternut squash stew, try out this recipe for Aztec Stew. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Hartley from Kitchen Caravan

Hey Heidi,
This soup looks perfect for a cold winter’s night. I have recently been using a lot of dried beans in my cooking, both for economic and convenience reasons, though I’ve yet to try adzuki beans

Dallas from Bitchin' Kitchen

Butternut makes such a lovely soup, I love the addition of the adzuki beans though!


Sandy, the green are most likey the cilantro drizzle that is described at the end of the recipe.
This sounds great! I love the combination of chipotle and cinnamon. Can’t wait to try it out.


The picture of the soup looks like there are greens, but there are no greens in the recipe.


mmmmmmm. adzuki beans are sweet and delicious. i cannot wait to taste them with the smokiness of the chipotle. thank you so much!


Adzuki beans are so creamy and such a lovely color. Thanks for the cookbook recommendation – I love the books where I learn about the ingredients as opposed to just recipes!


I can credit macrobiotics for introducing me to the fine adzuki bean. Your recipe sounds a lot better than any macrobiotic recipe, for sure. How much longer do we have for winter squashes this year? Let’s eat ’em while we have ’em!

Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

served over brown rice sounds perfect!!

Tabitha (From Single to Married

That looks so good, and I love the combo choice of cinnamon and coriander. mmm.


I love, love, LOVE butternut squash! I don’t eat it enough, though. 🙁 Great-looking recipe!! 🙂


Looks delicious and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for that cookbook 🙂 Thanks, Heidi!


When we go out to eat, adzuki bean soup is sometimes served as a dessert in Chinese restaurants. The adzuki beans are basically cooked in water until it forms a soup and the beans are softened, and then some sweetner is added to it. So rich and creamy and delicious.


That looks really great. And it’s good to know the adzuki hold their shape. Such a bummer when beans totally break down in a hearty soup. Also love all the cilantro!

The Duo Dishes

I’ve never had adzuki beans before, but I’m a bean fanatic so I want to try them soon. This looks like a fabulous recipe.


Hello Heidi,
Adzuki beans and kabocha squash often make a great combination in Japanese dishes (including cakes and other sweets!), and I bet this works beautifully with butternut squash. The addtion of the herbs and spices sound intriguing, too… I’ve made some curry with adzuki and kabocha before, and I imagine this is a bit like it. Yum!


That looks lovely. Somehow, even now in February, I’ve not grown tired of winter squash…not when there are so many tasty ways to prepare it!
Looks like a tasty recipe…I like the added cinnamon. I’m looking forward to trying this one!

Laurel from Simple Spoonful

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